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Beaufort County School Builds Inclusive Community

After visiting with the principal and some of the faculty at Pritchardville Elementary I wanted to highlight their work.  They are a school with an incredible kid first mentality, represented in the decisions they make every day to serve each and every one of their students.

Tim LaCourt, Associate

Multi-Tiered System of Supports

Ms. Brenda Blue, Principal, leads the school.  She is a strong proponent of inclusive practices and has a rich experience in public schools both in South Carolina and Virginia.  The team of teachers I had the privilege of meeting described their efforts toward building more inclusive practices for all learners at Pritchardville.  This consists of not only students with IEP’s and some with 504 plans, but a large number of students who are English Language Learners.  The teachers articulated their process for using a multi-tiered system of supports effectively within the school to assess and identify learner characteristics within Tier 1 instruction and address problems early with rigorous interventions provided 30 minutes daily when needed.  The teams of teachers who monitor these interventions meet every 6 weeks to evaluate progress and adjust the interventions if needed.

If students are not making sufficient advances, Tier 2 interventionists take over with even more individualized services. The principal budgets for a certified teacher—as well as 2 retired teachers—to serve in this role.  The process provides a system of supports that pinpoints learning issues more clearly and addresses them thoughtfully, avoiding the need for higher levels of interventions.  The school speaks a common language when it comes to students and supports sound thinking in building rigorous lessons, interventions and challenge when needed, depending on the student.   Thinking is research based.  The work of one researcher in the area of Reading—Dr. Richard Allington—provides guidance, and drives part of the discussion in assessment of reading, and targeting interventions to the right students.

Training and Professional Development

Ms. Blue believes the decisions and effectiveness of her teaching staff make the positive difference in providing quality instruction to all the students at Pritchardville Elementary.  To assure teachers have the tools for decision-making, she assures professional development is valued, targeted, and what is not available elsewhere, is provided in-house.  All disciplines collaborate with each other: Reading, Math, Special Education, English as a Second Language, Gifted.  100% of the faculty is training in the SIOP model for teaching English Learners.  Most teachers are working toward their certification in Gifted/Talented, and a number are obtaining ESL certification.  Advanced learners are given equal consideration through the use of curriculum-compacting school wide, and utilizing Advanced Mathematics, Engineering, and Science (AMES) Program for enrichment.    Planning time is used efficiently on the campus and teachers regularly communicate and sometimes share students with common learning goals.   Dr. Allington asks this question at the end of one of his articles.  The response is a clear “yes” at Pritchardville Elementary where the administration and teachers strive to become expert in meeting all of their students’ needs.  The faculty here represents good learning and we applaud you!

References:

1. Allington & Johnston, 2001; Darling-Hammond, 1999; Duffy, 1997; Pressley, et al, 2001; Sanders, 1998; Taylor, Pearson, Clark & Walpole, 2000.

2. Dr. Richard Allington, What I’ve Learned About Effective Reading Instruction From A Decade of Studying Exemplary Classroom Teachers,
          Phi Delta Kappan, June 2002.